ENDANGERING FOREVER: PART FOUR
(How to Fly Part Eleven)
A/N: Hey everyone! I'm back. Man, I got more reviews when I didn't ask for them. Serves me right, I guess. Okay, here we go with the mumbo jumbo.
DEDICATION: To those who have lost all hope and think there is no way out, that there is no way to make things right again... There is a way, just open your eyes to see it.
DISCLAIMER: *holds up a sign that says: GO TO PART ONE* Hold up. I forgot that I don't own Oasis' "Don't Go Away" song. *snaps fingers in disappointment*
WARNING: I'm not so sure about this. You've got your Taiora. You've got your Takari and Koumi. Then there's the Junato *dodges leftover fruitcake from Christmas being thrown*. Um, I don't think there's going to be anything else. Let me tell you, people. I don't know what's going to happen. I found out as soon as my hands start typing. I basically don't know what happens until I'm done and I go and read it again. FREAK-Y, huh? There will be angst, but I'm not sure to what extent.
Okay, this part should be pretty good, especially toward the end, if I carry out what I've got in mind.
BY THE WAY: I'm going to do a fic when this series is done that will answer all questions about the How to Fly series, so if you've got questions, post them in the reviews. It'll be a while before I'll post the fic that answers your questions, but it should be that long. You can put your question(s) about ANY of the How to Fly series. That means:
How to Fly Part 1
How to Fly Part 2
How to Fly Part 3
How to Fly Part 4
Blind Love Part 1
Blind Love Part 2
Blind Love Part 3
And the Endangering Forever story arc (however many parts that will be)
Endangering Forever will NOT be the last fics in this series (I know, I know. Just put an end to it, right?), but you can post questions about what I've done so far. I'll answer the questions that are already on the reviews, too.
Okay, NOW you can read.
ENDANGERING FOREVER: PART FOUR
"Dear God, help me," Tai whispered tearily. This was just too much. He wanted, no, he needed Sora back, or they both would die. How could he get her back, though? He was hoping that he could just say sorry and I love you and she would fly back into his arms, but he knew Sora wasn't like that. She had wounds inflicted on her by herself, her mother, her father, and now Tai, the one person who had promised never to hurt her. What could he do, however, that would undo the wrong he had done? Well, nothing could undo it, but he could try to make it right. What was one thing that Sora loved him for doing? He wasn't sure. Maybe that wasn't the right way to phrase the question. What did Sora love about him? That was a better question, but the answer wasn't exactly clear.
'Is there anything about me to love anymore? I'm a monster without a cause,' he thought bitterly. He tried to retract his wings, but it was a little bit more difficult. The broken wings were still bloody, which could have possibly contributed to Tai's problem. He tried again, this time concentrating more, and finally retracted them. This time, however, he almost screamed in agony. It was hurting him. Badly.
'I'm paying for my mistake, Sora. I'm paying dearly.
He grabbed his head and fell to his knees, stifling a scream. His back was on fire with the pain, but there was nothing he could do but wait it out. Finally, the fire went out and he could stand, but not without difficulty. Tai went to his dresser, grabbed a shirt, put it on, and shuffled toward the living room. He started to go to the kitchen, but stopped. His stomach was growling with hunger, but a brief thought crossed through his mind. 'You don't deserve to eat.' Tai nodded, as if the voice actually belonged to a person. The truth was, he was too disgusted with what he had done to even think about eating food. He turned his body away from the kitchen and walked slowly toward the couch. When he got there, he sat down and began to think.
'It's not my sense of humor, because she used to tell me that it was stupid, even though she DID laugh at some of my jokes. She's mentioned before that my muscles make all the girls envy her for having me, but she doesn't love me for that, does she? She's mentioned that I'm sweet, caring, and loving, but I bet that image has been destroyed. What have I done to cheer her up before? Something that she's asked me to do before. What could it be?'
His thinking made him think he was helpless. Unfortunately, he was. He was weak and helpless. He put his face in his hands and thought until he was sure his brain would explode. What did a lot of guys do to get their girls back? He thought and thought. No flowers. That wasn't his or Sora's style. Finally, he gave up. He didn't want to, but it seemed so hopeless.
'You can't give up, Taichi. Your life depends on it.' Then, a more terrifying thought hit him. 'Her life depends on it.' That was enough to set him to thinking again. His life seemed expendable now, but Sora was someone who deserved to see the good that lied ahead of her after all of the bad that lied behind her. But what could he do for her? His mind began to wander. He began to think about the hospital, when he had spent as much time as he could at Sora's side. He remembered her crying and he began to sing to her. He remembered how they had both fell asleep, her in his arms. Then he remembered when Doctor Kessler had come in..... Something clicked in his mind.
'Back up, Taichi. What did you do to calm her crying?' Sing! That was it! He sang to her! Tai almost jumped up for joy, but pain shot up through his back. 'I thought that pain had passed... Am I going to have to live like this until I get her back?' he asked himself.
'You don't deserve to get better and you don't deserve Sora. You don't deserve to eat, either. You've done the kind of thing that makes you want to die, but you can't because it's more of a punishment to live.'
Tai nodded slowly in agreement with the voice in his head, which was most certainly his own ill mind. He was beginning to let himself take these self-destroying thoughts that his mind was dishing out at him. He was becoming weak without Sora. He couldn't help but wonder if she was becoming weak without him. Was she? He hoped not. If she was feeling any of the pain he was, it was too much for him to think about. What was the best way to sing to her and win her heart back? He began to think again.
He ran to the phone and picked it up. He looked at the clock and gaped at the time. '2:30! Matt is going to kill me, but he'll just have to deal with it.' It ringed three times before someone picked up.
"Hello?" a groggy voice said. Tai froze. This was Mr. Ishida, not Matt.
"Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Ishida, but is Matt there? I really need to talk to him," Tai said sheepishly. Mr. Ishida grunted.
"MATT! Get on this damn phone. Someone calling at this hour... must be... important," he said slowly, his speech slurred by his fatigue. There was a click as one phone picked up and another as the other was hung up.
"Helllooo?" a voice asked sleepily.
"Matt! It's me, Tai!" He wasn't sure if Matt realized it, but Tai could have sworn Matt growled.
"What do you want, you idiot? It's 2:30 in the freakin' morning. To make things worse, you were already on my bad side," he said lowly, his tone threatening. Tai gulped.
"I know, I know. Please, I need your help," he said softly, trying to dissuade any harsh words that could be said between them. He heard Matt snort laughter.
"What? You want me to call Kara and ask her if she still wants to sleep with you?" he jeered. Tai grit his teeth.
"Stop it, Matt! You're not helping," he said, his tone going from soft to threatening. Matt laughed again.
"Yeah, like you did," he said haughtily. Tai sighed deeply, hurt by Matt's words. He was actually hurt more by the truth in the words than he was by the person that said them.
"I need your help to get Sora back." Matt's mouth dropped open.
"You expect me to help you? After how shook up Sora was? She couldn't stop crying, man!" he said loudly. Tai felt the tears well up in his own eyes. She was hurting.
"I'm sorry for what I've done... I don't know what I was thinking. I need your help, Matt, please!" he cried frantically.
"I don't know. You've hurt her pretty bad Tai." Tai clenched his teeth.
"I thought you were my best friend and would try to help me get her back," he growled. He heard Matt sigh.
"I am your best friend, but you screwed up big time."
"I know I have. Believe me, I'm paying for it," he said as some pain shot through his back like lightning, causing him to almost yelp in pain. He arched his back until the pain stopped.
"Fine. For Sora and you, because you're both my best friends." Tai felt himself almost smile for the first time since he had left the party.
"Okay, I'll see you in a sec. Meet you in the park?" He heard Matt start laughing.
"You mean... Right now, in the park? What? Are you out of your mind?" he asked, still laughing a little. Tai didn't do so much as crack a smile.
"Yes, right now. I'll see you there," and with that, Tai slammed down the phone, grabbed his coat, put on his shoes, and ran out the door.
Little did he know that Kari had awaken during his conversation with Matt and knew where he was going. She tiptoed to the coat rack, put on a coat over her pajamas, hastily put on her shoes, and quietly chased after Tai out the door.
"Hey Matt! I thought you'd never get here!" Tai called as he saw his friend. Matt ran up to him and scowled.
"Well, I can't exactly run fast after I get up. At least I'm here," he said sullenly. His hair was a mess, looking much like T.K.'s with his hat off. Tai's wasn't exactly fashion show material, either, but neither of the boys had figured their looks of much importance. Neither of them noticed a small brown haired girl move behind some bushes.
"That's a good thing. All right. I think I know what to do to get her back." Matt brought a hand out of his pocket and made a gesture that told him to continue. "I'm going to sing to her," he said slowly, watching Matt carefully, trying to gauge his response. At first, Matt just stood there. Then he lifted an eyebrow skeptically, and then the laughter came. Tai just scowled while Matt started into a mad fit of laughter. Tai impatiently tapped his foot and glared at his best friend. Finally, Matt began to get himself under control, but he had laughed so hard that he now had a stitch in his side and he was holding his stomach with both hands.
"Um, Tai. That may not be a good idea. I've heard you sing and, sorry to tell ya, but you're awful," he said, still trying to stifle laughter. Tai narrowed his eyes.
"When was the last time you heard me sing?" he asked flatly. Matt looked up, thinking.
"I believe... Well, I think it was when we were, like, thirteen or something. Wow, that's longer than I thought, but you're still awful," he said. Tai seemed indifferent.
"And how much has my voice changed since then?" he asked, his tone still flat. Matt shifted his weight from foot to foot.
"I'd say not much, but enough to make you sound like a man, not a boy," he answered finally. Tai lifted an eyebrow.
"So you're agreeing that maybe my voice has changed enough to make me able to sing?" he asked. Matt smiled.
"I agree with you, but I don't believe that you can sing. You were pretty awful and it takes a big change to make a difference in your singing voice." Tai frowned.
"Sora said I couldn't sing, too. She called me a duck once, but I knew she liked it. I've been like that for about three years now," he said. Matt frowned slightly.
"Sorry, but I still don't believe you," he said quietly. Tai straightened his back proudly, causing a little pain.
"What? You want me to prove it?" he asked arrogantly. Matt matched Tai's proud pose.
"Why not? I wouldn't want you to kill her with your voice," he said, just as arrogantly. Tai winced. 'She'll die with or without my voice, Matt.' He sighed.
"What do you want me to sing?" Matt thought.
"Whatever you want." Tai shrugged his shoulders nervously.
"A cold and frosty morning. There's not a lot to say about the things caught in my mind," he sang softly, a little embarrassed. Matt crossed his arms and waited for Tai to go on. Kari, still behind the bushes and still unnoticed, listened to her brother's voice curiously. She didn't remember hearing him sing, so she was just as curious as Matt. "As the day was dawning, my plane flew away with all the things caught in my mind." Tai was bright red now. Matt seemed a little impressed. "And I wanna be there when you're coming down, and I wanna be there when you hit the ground. So don't go away, say what you say, but say that you'll stay forever and a day... in the time of my life, cuz I need more time, yes I need more time just to make things right." Tai stopped, hoping that Matt wouldn't start to laugh at him. In his state of mind, that would have been too much. Instead, Matt's mouth was hanging open, along with the unseen Kari. His voice was not the hideous noise that would remind you of nails on a chalk board. It was soothing to the mind.
"Wow. Well, you proved me wrong," he said finally. Tai felt like smiling, but a picture of Sora crying popped up in his head and totally obliterated the idea.
"Told ya," he said. Matt smiled.
"Okay. So how do you want me to help you?" Tai shrugged.
"I dunno. That's why I'm asking you," he replied casually. Matt rolled his eyes and sat down on a nearby bench.
"Okay. Lemme think. Um, let's see..." he said, beginning to think. Tai watched him nervously, hoping he would come up with some brilliant plan. For once, Tai's mind wasn't the one reeling for a plan, but Matt's. Finally, Matt snapped his fingers. "How would you like to sing with my band?" he asked. Tai waved his hands, trying to dissuade the idea.
"No! I will not sing in front of people!" he said frantically. Matt looked up at him from his spot on the bench with angry eyes.
"Do you want her back or not?" Tai put his hands at his sides and made his face become eerily emotionless. Inside, however, the storm of feelings was enough to rip him apart, and as he had found out earlier that evening, it actually was. He was literally being ripped apart.
"I need her, Matt."
"Then you'll sing," Matt said assertively. Tai sighed.
"Anything for her." Matt nodded, accepting his answer. Tai looked away, thoughts of Sora filling his mind. He could actually picture her crying, and it hurt him deeply.
"Is New Year's Eve soon enough?" Tai whirled back around and faced Matt. The blonde haired boy's face contorted in confusion. There was fear written on Tai's face. Actually, it was more like terror or something, and Matt had no idea why Tai would be like that.
Tai's mind was racing. He had only been apart from Sora about six hours and he was showing the signs of dying already. How was she doing? He could only imagine. How was this affecting her? He shuddered to think that Matt's offer may be too late.
"If that's as early as you can get it, fine." Matt stood up and smiled at Tai, who still had the fear etched into his face.
"Good. I'll tell the rest of them tomorrow. What are you going to sing, Tai? Something good, I hope. That one you just did would kind of fit, you know," he said. Tai shook his head.
"No. I'm going to do a song that's much more fitting, I think."
"What would that be? I need to know so we can practice for it." Tai sighed.
"Bent," he said quietly. Matt rolled his eyes into his head, a gesture that would suggest he was thinking.
"Oh, yeah! That's got deep meaning in it, Tai. I'm sure it will work," he said cheerfully. Tai didn't smile.
"I can only hope," he said softly.
"It'll work, Tai." Tai and Matt both whirled around to find the origin of the voice. Their mouths both dropped open to see Kari.
"What are you doing here?" Tai asked angrily. Kari stepped out from behind the bushes.
"Following you. Sora was hurting tonight Tai, but I want you to know that she's not the only one you hurt. The look in her eyes says that she'll take you back in an instant. Don't blow your chances with her, Tai," the young girl said. Tai looked at her with narrowed eyes. Ironic how he had lived longer than she had, but she seemed to have the wisdom of experience that he didn't.
"Thanks, Kari. I know I hurt you, too," he said, staring down at his shoes. Kari sighed.
"Not just me. Am I right, Matt?" she asked, directing her question to the other boy.
"She's right." Tai winced.
"Joe, Mimi, Matt, Izzy even. T.K., too. He, along with the rest of us, couldn't understand why you did it, and that hurt us more than anything. You hurt me and most of all, you hurt Sora. Jun even seemed angry, but I think her anger was directed at Kara more than you. But I forgive you, Tai. I love you, and I can't stay mad at you forever." She smiled sadly at him, turned around slowly, and began to walk home. She suddenly stopped mid stride and stood still. "By the way, Tai. Her mother knows." Tai snapped his head up to see his sister continuing her walk home. Tai felt that someone had just punched him in the stomach. If Sora's mother knew, then there was the slight possibility that Tai would have to win her love, too. Something that he didn't want to do if it killed him. He turned around and looked at Matt, who just stood there.
"Thank you, Matt. Thanks for being my friend," Tai said. Matt just smiled.
"Hey, that's what I'm for, right?" Tai tried to strain a smile, but it wouldn't come.
"I'll see you tomorrow," Tai said. Matt laughed.
"It already is tomorrow. 2:30, remember? I'll see you later," he corrected. Tai waved off his correction.
"Yeah, yeah." With that, he ran after Kari. He finally caught up with each other, and neither said another word to each other, both afraid that they would make themselves cry if they said anything at all.
Sora turned over onto her stomach and took a deep breath. She flipped over again and opened her eyes. She looked in the direction of her clock, but was stunned not to see it. She bolted upright in the bed and looked at it. This wasn't her bed! Her sheets were white, not blue, and her bed wasn't this big, either. She saw her clothes weren't her own either, suggesting she did something she shouldn't have the night before. She looked around her to find a young man sitting in a chair reading a book.
"Joe???" she asked incredulously. Joe looked up at her and smiled.
"Good morning, Sunshine. You're finally awake," he said cheerfully. Sora just looked at him blankly. Brief confusion crossed his face. "Don't you remember how you got here?"
"Not exactly. In fact, I don't remember anything about last night," she said slowly. Joe's face immediately became downcast.
"You will." She just looked at him curiously and began to think. Suddenly, all of her memories flooded into her mind at once. Kara's party. Tai. Matt holding her. Her mother crying. The park. Ken. Joe. Sora gasped and put a hand up to her mouth.
"Oh...my... God...." she whispered. Joe watched in sympathy as she began to cry, obviously remembering what happened the night before.
"It's okay, Sora. We didn't do anythi-"
"You didn't, but I did! I'm just as bad as Tai is! I can't believe I did that! Oh, Joe!" she cried, now shaking from her sobs. Joe got up from his chair, threw his book behind him, and walked briskly to her side.
"It's okay. It really is. That wasn't the Sora I know last night, and I think you agree with me. It'll be okay," he said quietly, now sitting beside her with an arm wrapped comfortably around her shoulders. She buried her head into his shoulders, letting the sobs without hindrance. Ten minutes passed, and, finally, Sora's crying stopped. She lifted her head from Joe's shoulder, her eyes puffy and red. He smiled at her. "You want something to eat?" Sora nodded, hiccuping as a result of her seemingly endless crying spell. He nodded, got up from the bed, and ran out of his room. She stared into space, remembering with frightening clarity. Sora felt like she could burst into tears again, but just then, Joe waltzed into the room, carrying a tray with him. It had your typical lumberjack's breakfast, although Sora was no lumberjack. Joe laughed at the look on her face. "I just thought you might be hungry," he said with a grin. Sora nodded hesitantly.
"Yeah, but not that hungry. Did you fix all of that for me, Joe?" she asked. He nodded. "Thank you, but don't be offended if I can't eat it all." Joe set the tray down on Sora's lap and put his hands on his hips.
"You had better, Sora Takenouchi! Doctor's orders!" he said, shaking a finger at her furiously. Sora laughed and put up her hands in defense.
"Okay, okay. I'll try to eat it all," she said. Joe smiled.
"Good. Um, Sora? Do you want me to call your mom?" he asked. Sora's fork stopped in mid-dive for her plate. She looked at Joe wearily.
"Go ahead. I'll talk to her, if you want. She has a tendency to... suspect things, and it might be better if I talk to her," she answered finally. Joe shook his head.
"Nah, I'll talk to her." Sora shrugged.
"Suit yourself. I bet she doesn't care," she said under her breath, but Joe heard it with a frown.
"Stop beating yourself up, Sora. She does care," he said quietly and left the room again. He padded toward the kitchen quickly and picked up the phone. "Hey, Sora! What's your number?" he called. Sora called it back to him and he dialed it in simultaneously. Someone on the other end picked up almost immediately.
"Hello? Is this about Sora?" the voice asked frantically. Joe smiled smugly. He knew Sora's mother would care. He would take great pride in saying 'I told you so'.
"Um, actually it is. This is Joe Kido, Ms. Takenouchi. From last night? I just wanted to tell you that Sora's all right. She came to see me last night, and she fell asleep. She'll be home soon."
"She's all right?!?" the frantic woman exclaimed.
"Mmhmm. She's fine."
"Just as long as she's all right. Thank you, Joe. Can I speak to her?" Joe looked up to see Sora standing in the doorway. He looked at her questioningly and Sora shook her head furiously. She put her hands together against the side of her head and tilted it sideways, trying to tell him to tell him she was "asleep". Joe sighed and nodded.
"No, Sora's still asleep. I'll tell her to call you as soon as she wakes up."
"No, don't do that. I'm going to be at the flower shop today, so you just tell her that I'll see her as soon as I get home." Joe nodded as if she could see him.
"I'll do that. Bye." With that, Joe slammed down the phone and glared at Sora. "She was worried to death about you, and you can even speak to her?" She stood still, not faltering under Joe's heated gaze.
"I could, but then I'd be bombarded with questions of what I did with you last night, and I can't take that right now." Joe sighed and finally nodded, accepting her answer.
"Did you finish your breakfast?" he asked finally. Sora shook her head. She saw the mock anger flood onto Joe's face, and she waved her hands, trying to dissuade his "Angry Doctor" lecture.
"I was just seeing how the phone call was doing. I'm going to go back and finish it right now," she said, turning on her heels. Joe smiled.
"Good." He watched her walking, but was a little alarmed when she wavered in her step, as if she was dizzy or weak. Joe brushed it off, however, when she recovered and walked straight into his room. He walked over to the couch, flopped down, and began to flip channels. He got up to go check on Sora. He entered his room and smiled. She had eaten all of her breakfast, and was now fast asleep. As Joe picked up the tray, he noticed that her eyes were puffy and red, the result of crying. He frowned immediately. She had cried herself to sleep again. He put the tray up and flopped back down on the couch, watching the news. In the back of his mind, however, that sadness that had made him cry until about 3:00 the night before beared down on his conscience, making him want to cry again. However, Sora was likely up and he didn't want her to see him in that state. He had to be strong, even when it was hard.
But the prospect of being alone forever was something that could make the strongest man cry.
Ms. Takenouchi ran around her apartment in a hurried attempt to grab things for work. She opened the door to leave, but there was a young girl, Sora's age, that had been there the night before.
"Hello, Ms. Takenouchi. Is Sora here? I was going to take her out shopping," the girl said cheerfully. Ms. Takenouchi sighed.
"No, she's not, Mimi. She disappeared last night, but a boy named... Joe, I believe, called this morning and told me that she had spent the night there." Mimi's mouth dropped open.
"Joe Kido?" Ms. Takenouchi nodded.
"I'm sorry, dear, but I've got to get to work," she said, brushing by Mimi. She waved good bye, but was deep in thought. Sora spent the night at Joe's? What if they....?
"I'll kill him," she said angrily as she hurriedly began to make her way to Joe's apartment. She didn't know which apartment number he was in, but she did know the apartment complex. Sighing, she realized that she'd have to use the same method that Sora had the night before.
The doorbell rang soon after 9:00 at the Kido residence. Joe hurried to the door to open it before the person ringing the doorbell woke up Sora. He opened it and smiled in pleasant surprise.
"Hey, Mi-" He didn't get to finish before Mimi jumped inside the door and tackled him to the floor.
"You took advantage of her, you bastard! You couldn't even wait until she got over Tai! I-CAN'T-BELIEVE-YOU- JOE- KIDO!!!" she screamed, slapping him across the face on every syllable. His hands flew up to his face in both pain and shock.
"Mimi! Nothing happened, I swear!" he protested. She got off of him, jerking him to his feet by his shirt with amazing strength.
"Mimi?" a soft voice asked. It was Sora shuffling through the hall, her hands on her head as if she had a tremendous headache. Joe noticed that she was wavering a bit in her step, as if drunk.
"OH! Nothing happened, huh, Joe? Then why is she wearing your clothes?!" she said, pressing her face close to his. Joe put up his hands in defense.
"Mimi! Let him go!" Sora cried. Mimi looked at her friend and complied, letting go of Joe's shirt. He let out a sigh of relief and brushed himself off. He closed the door that Mimi had failed to in her rush to strangle him. "He didn't do anything! If anybody did something, it was me!" she moaned. Mimi found it strange that the sweet and innocent Sora she had always known had brought on something this bad. Sora was so nice that she couldn't have done anything with Joe, could she?
"What are you talking about? You're staggering around like he got you drunk or something!" she exclaimed. Sora glared at her. She walked across the room and put herself between Joe and Mimi.
"He didn't drug me. Does that sound like the Joe you know? He was taking care of me. I don't feel well, that's all," she growled, but was trying to reassure herself more than she was Mimi. Something was wrong with her. She felt horrible. Mimi sighed and crossed her arms.
"I guess not." She turned away from Joe and mumbled something while looking at her fingernails.
"What?" he asked, honestly not hearing what she said.
"I said I'm sorry, okay? I guess I got a little.... carried away, that's all," she said, turning back around to face Joe. He smirked.
"Just a tad," he said, but tried not to rub it into Mimi's already-hurt pride. Suddenly, Sora swayed, but Joe caught her. "Sora? Are you okay?" Sora nodded.
"Yeah, I'm just... tired. Mimi, if you'll sit down..." Sora paused and sighed as she stood up on her own. "I'll tell you everything," she said finally. Joe looked a little worried.
"You sure, Sora?" She nodded. "Fine. I need to go down to the convenience store for something to drink. You two want something?" Both of them shook their heads. "Okay, then. I'll be back in a bit." They both waved after him as he went out. Sora noticed that he had gotten dressed while she had been asleep. Mimi turned from the door to Sora.
"Now what is going on here?" she asked. Sora sighed.
"Sit down." They both proceeded to go to Joe's couch and both sat down facing each other. "Do you want the whole version or the Reader's Digest?" Mimi gave her a "well duh" look, and Sora nodded. "Okay, well, last night, after you all left, I cried for about an hour. I got up and decided to go to the park to get some air. I saw that kid named Ken, you remember him? You know, the younger digidestined?" Mimi nodded and Sora continued. "Anyway, I talked to him for a bit and he left, but I still needed to talk to someone. I didn't know your hotel room number-"
"They would have given it to you at the front desk," Mimi said softly. Sora sighed impatiently.
"Well, I didn't think they would. Everyone else lived too far away or wouldn't be home. I didn't want to talk to Jun, so I decided to go to Joe's."
"You knew his apartment number?" Mimi asked incredulously. Sora shook her head and instantly saw the downcast look on Mimi's face.
"I knocked until I found it," Sora explained, but frowned at Mimi's expression. Her look seemed to be saying 'Why didn't you do that so you could find me?' but Sora was in no mood to answer the unasked question. "He came to the door wearing nothing but a towel. He said that he had been in the shower-"
"I knew you did something! I knew it!" Mimi exclaimed, cutting Sora off. She gave Mimi an angry glare.
"Stop that! I'll tell you what happened, okay? Any-way, I came in while he went to go finish his shower because he had soap in his hair and everything. That's when I...I..." but she couldn't seem to get the words out.
"It's okay, Sora. Go ahead and finish. I promise not to interrupt, okay?" Sora nodded, but wasn't sure if she wanted to tell the rest.
"I went in his room and stripped down to nothing." The look on Mimi's face went from compassionate and concerned to shocked and bemused, but as she had promised, she didn't interrupt. "He came in there and I... I tried to seduce him." The look of bemusement on Mimi's face went to worry. "I finally talked him into it, and we were going to, but I said..." Sora started to cry, but didn't really take any notice. "I said 'I love you, Tai' and Joe stopped right then and there. He said he knew... He said..." Sora began to cry harder and was now dimly aware of it. "He said that he knew I was pretending he was Tai." Then, Sora burst out into loud, hysterical sobs. Mimi scooted closer to her friend and hugged her.
"It's okay, Sora," she whispered, but Sora shook her head furiously.
"I cheated on Tai! I cheated on him!" Mimi took Sora's shoulders with her hands and shook her gently.
"Stop it, Sora. It's only cheating when you're going out with them. When you threw that ring down, you broke up with him. It's time you realize that," she said softly. This only made Sora cry harder.
"But I didn't want to lose him! I didn't want to go without him! I can't live without him! I might as well kill myself now and get it over with!" she wailed. Mimi's expression became angry.
"Don't you dare kill yourself, Sora. None of us would be able to live with it. If you kill yourself, I promise that I'll... I'll.... I'll do something, anyway. But don't kill yourself, Sora. Nobody is worth that," she scolded. Sora just looked at Mimi blankly.
"You don't understand! I love him! He's the only thing that kept me alive!" she shrieked. Just then, Joe walked back in and gasped.
"Sora? Are you okay?" he asked for the second time that morning. Sora just buried her face into her hands, sobbing hysterically. Mimi looked at him, as if asking for help. Joe shrugged, not knowing what to do. He wished he could comfort her, but he wasn't sure how. Suddenly, Sora wrenched herself out of Mimi's grip and stood up, still weeping. Mimi reached out for her, but Sora slapped her hand away with tremendous strength, causing the pink haired girl to yelp in pain. Joe dropped his bag of snacks and rushed over to Sora, but stepped back when Sora got down in a fighting position.
"Don't you dare touch me. Don't tell me it's going to be all right, either," she growled, but she was still crying.
"Just calm down, Sora. Nobody wants to hurt you," Joe said quietly. Sora stood there for at least a minute or two. Finally, she straightened herself out and put her head in her hands. She started to sob again. "Don't cry... please," he pleaded, but all to no avail. Sora brushed by him and ran into his room, slamming the door shut behind her. Joe looked at Mimi sadly.
"I'm sorry I accused you of... taking advantage of her, Joe," she said finally. Joe just waved it off.
"I can understand." He walked back over to his snacks and picked them up. "What do we do now? My brother should be home soon, and it'll be impossible to explain the girl in my clothes in my bed." Mimi sighed.
"I was going to take her shopping. If you were wondering, her mom's the one that told me where she was. I had to knock on all the doors to find you, but I finally did. Maybe I can still convince her to go shopping. Can I use your phone, Joe?" He nodded.
"Be my guest. Who you gonna call?" he asked through a mouthful of beef jerky. Mimi rolled her eyes at his manners.
"Kari. I want her to come too, since she was pretty shaken up," she explained as she flipped through the phone book to find the number. Joe nodded, but then seemed hesitant.
"You could invite Jun." Mimi looked up from dialing the number into the phone.
"I guess I could. She was there for Sora, too," she said quietly. Joe sat down on a stool near the kitchen and watched Mimi talk with hand gestures on the phone. She hung up soon after the conversation started. "Kari can, so now I've got to find Jun, right?" Joe simply nodded and finished off the stick of beef jerky in hand. Mimi flipped through the phone book with the speed of a pro and landed right on the M's. She found Jun's number and dialed it quickly. "Hello, this is Mimi. Is Jun there? No, Kari is not here, so would you please let me talk to Jun?" Joe laughed quietly, knowing that Davis had been the one to pick up the phone. Mimi had a short conversation with someone else and hung up the phone.
"She can come, too. I gave them both your apartment number. I hope you don't mind," she said apologetically. Joe laughed.
"The more the merrier," he said with a mischievous grin. Mimi caught on to what he was thinking and punched him playfully.
"You just watch what you're doing, Joe Kido," she said, but she was laughing, too. They both stopped abruptly, causing instant silence. Then, the sound of Sora's crying filled the air. They both bowed their heads in sorrow, not knowing what could cure the broken heart of their best friend. There was only one person that could cure it, and his name was Taichi Kamiya.
"Where are you going, Kari?" Tai asked as he laboriously got out of his bed, not caring what time it was. Kari was hustling around the room. She was already dressed to his surprise. She usually slept in on days like this.
"With Mimi. She asked me if I wanted to go to the mall with her and I said yes," Kari answered. Tai perked up almost instantly.
"Is Sora going?" he asked anxiously. Kari glanced at him nervously.
"You can't go, Tai. You've caused her enough pain already," she said finally. Tai's face seemed to melt into sadness.
"But you don't understand, Kari. I'm going to die without her, and she's going to die without me," he said quietly. Kari just looked at him. "And I mean literally." The look on her face went from disbelief to worry, but she said nothing. "Let me ask you this, Kari. Let's say you and T.K. are in love-"
"We are, Tai." He sighed impatiently.
"Fine. You love him, but let's say he does... what I did. Would you forgive him?" Kari looked away from him, pondering the question.
"Yes." Tai sat back down on his bed.
"But let's say that you couldn't see each other and you couldn't tell him that you forgave him. He's laying in his bed, crying his eyes out. The more he cries, the sicker he gets. The more time he spends without you, the sicker he gets. Let's say that he dies. What would you do?" Kari looked back at her brother and frowned.
"Well, I'd probably die the same way he did," she said finally. Tai reached out, grabbed his sister's arm, and pulled her close to him.
"What do you think is happening to me?" he whispered. The look in Kari's eyes went to fear in nothing flat.
"But you still can't go, Tai. Today is December 26th, right? Okay, that means that New Year's Eve is only five days away. Can you make it until then?" she asked. Tai shook his head and let go of her arm.
"I don't know." Kari shuddered at the thought of Tai dying.
"I'm gone, Tai. I'll see you later."
"Yeah, maybe," he answered back. She ran out the door of her room and out of the apartment, her head filled with nightmares of her brother dying a slow, painful death.
With the combined forces of Jun, Kari, Mimi, and Joe, they all dragged Sora out of his room. They made her get dressed, and finally, they left for the mall. They shopped and shopped to their heart's content, but it was all Sora could do to keep from crying. At one point, Mimi had pulled Sora aside. "Shopping is the best kind of therapy, Sora. Maybe you should give it a try!" she had exclaimed. Sora had simply shook her head and brushed Mimi's hand off of her. They shopped until 6:30 that night. All of them dog-tired, but only one of them upset. Jun, Mimi, and Kari noticed that Sora didn't seem to be able to walk well, but just chalked it up to fatigue.
Tai had stayed in bed all day, wondering what to do next. The girls wouldn't let him near Sora, nor would some of the guys. He had to find a way to get to her before New Year's Eve, but he just couldn't figure out how. Sora was the only one that filled his thoughts, and he knew that he needed her badly. That night, when his mother had called him to dinner, it had taken him five minutes to get out of bed. His shoulders were killing him, and it was becoming hard for him to walk. He was hungry from not eating all day, so he went to dinner, but that same voice in his head said, 'You don't deserve to eat,' , so he didn't.
Sora spent all day at the flower shop, tending to flowers that she would have rather just wilted so she didn't have to work. It was hard for her to concentrate and it was a little harder for her to walk than the day before. Mimi had called and told her that she would be staying until after New Year's and that there was a party New Year's Eve that Matt had invited them all to. Sora had turned the offer down, but Mimi had informed her that she was going because she had already told Matt yes. Sora became extremely angry with her, but finally agreed. Maybe it would do her some good to go out. That night, however, she wept until 1:30, when no more tears would come.
Tai had laid in bed as long as he could until his father had gotten him up, asking why he hadn't gone to see Sora. Tai had grimly said "We're taking a time out," and had left it that. His shoulders felt like they were broken, and his legs felt weak. Every time he moved, his head would swirl with dizziness, but he never let on. Kari watched him carefully, not sure if she should take what Tai said seriously. She had called T.K. numerous times so he could console her. He even came over, but even his gentle words could not take away the worrying effect that Tai's words had on her. They had talked about the New Year's Eve party, but that was about as light as the conversation had gotten. That night, after not eating all day, Tai went to dinner, but to add to his sister's worry, refused to eat.
Matt went to go see Sora with Jun at his side, much to Sora's surprise. She hadn't expected their relationship to last even that long. Jun and Matt saw how Sora was carrying herself, as if she had been injured in an accident. They asked how she was, and she told them she was as happy as she could get tending flowers, but Matt had told her that she looked like she was tending her broken heart, not the flowers. Sora had waited until they left to start crying again. That night, Sora's mother went to go check on her after the hard day she had spent in the flower shop, but was upset to hear her daughter tossing restlessly. When she had stopped twisting and turning, Ms. Takenouchi could have sworn her daughter was calling Tai's name in her sleep.
T.K. came over again to the Kamiya apartment, trying to get Kari to stop worrying about her brother. She, however, would not comply to his pleading. Tai took fifteen minutes to get out of bed this time, and it wasn't long before he returned to it, saying he was extremely tired. He would break out in a cold sweat while he was sleeping. That night, he was called to dinner after sleeping all day, meaning he had not had anything else to eat. T.K. was joining them in an effort to see if what Kari claimed Tai was doing to himself was true. Sure enough, Tai sat down at the table, but refused to eat any of the food. T.K. asked him what was going on, and Tai had simply replied, "I'm dying without her." That night, he had the nightmare again that he had before. This time, Kara didn't appear in his arms, however. This time, when Tai was holding Sora, he died in her loving embrace.
Sora's mother, who had noticed the way Sora was walking and how pale she looked, had decided to let Sora spend the day at home. Sora, however, had voiced her protests so strongly that her mother had caved in to letting her work. Joe came by at about noon, asking how she was. She told him she was fine, but he knew differently. He bought a yellow rose and gave it to her before he left, telling her that she hoped she knew that it meant that he would be there whenever she needed him. She had given a simple nod, and he had left. Miraculously, she went the rest of the work day without crying, but once she entered her bedroom that night, she had started to cry hysterically. She didn't stop until 3:00 that morning.
Tai felt really weak and couldn't get out of bed on his own. His sister scolded him for not eating, but he didn't listen to her. She had asked him if he was becoming anorexic, and he had laughed. "No, sis. I'm just getting what I deserve," he had told her, and Kari was none too happy with his answer. She called Matt, Joe, and Izzy, hoping that they could help her, but none of them had any ideas. Izzy came over soon after she had called. He had gasped at the sight that had become their courageous leader. Kari told him everything that had happened, and Izzy told her that he was suffering from a severe case of grief. As for the eating, he had told her that he was probably eating when she wasn't looking. Kari had told him that she had watched Tai very, very carefully, and he hadn't eaten a thing. That night Tai went to dinner, with the help of his sister, but refused to eat anything. Kari had taken him back to bed, but she had told him that he needed to eat soon or there wouldn't be anything left of him to forgive. Tai had just shrugged her hands off of him and gone to sleep almost immediately. During the night, Kari woke up to her brother's frightened voice calling Sora. She painfully closed her eyes as he started to cry, "You said you wouldn't leave me!" She had cried herself to sleep soon after that.
Mimi came over to Sora's house after hearing that her mother had made her stay home from work that day. She took the heartbroken girl shopping again, this time looking for a dress that would suit the upcoming occasion. Sora would casually glance at some of the items Mimi ooed and awed over, but never did pay attention. Her mind kept floating to Tai and how she wished she was in his arms right then. Mimi tried tirelessly to get Sora's mind off of him, describing the dresses they were looking at in her best oh-gee-it's-water less-cookware!! voice, but she still couldn't get the red head's attention. Finally, Mimi had decided a red dress that would make Sora give Cindy Crawford competition, but still, she showed no gratitude. Mimi didn't ever give up, however, and got a laugh out of the girl when she ran up to a guy in the mall and started flirting mercilessly. Sora had finally gathered the courage to drag away the annoying pink-haired girl while laughing. Afterward, Mimi and Sora had gone to the Takenouchi residence and talked about everything about boys, which was a hard thing to do for Mimi. Finally, the sixteen-year-old went to her hotel. Suddenly, Sora felt awful for having fun without Tai and immediately began to cry until she was hoarse.
Matt had called Tai early that morning, telling him what time bad practice would be. Tai had agreed and had gotten dressed after a laborious hour. He almost called Kari to help him, but knew that no girl that young should be exposed to his near naked body. He shuffled around the apartment, wincing at every step, but he had finally gotten to where he could gingerly put his weight down on one leg for a while without much pain. His shoulders were on fire, however, and he knew exactly why. Every time his shoulder began to burn, he would remember the reflection he saw of his wings in the mirror. He went to Matt's band practice that night, but was only able to stand up for about thirty minutes before he had to sit down. Matt had expressed his concern, but Tai had told him that he was all right and that he was just suffering from fatigue. The blonde boy had accepted this, but not without skepticism. When the band was convinced that they had all of the chords right and that it sounded exactly like the song, they had ended the practice. Matt called Kari, and became very worried when the little girl arrived and had to practically carry Tai out the door. T.K. came with her, but Tai had told him that he didn't need his help. That night, when called to dinner, Tai didn't even bother to get out of his bed. Thinking of Sora's white face and auburn hair as red as fire, he finally drifted asleep, hoping that the girl of his dreams would be the girl of his reality by tomorrow night.
DECEMBER 31ST - NEW YEAR'S EVE
"Mimi! I look terrible!" Sora called from the bathroom. T.K., Mimi, Kari, Izzy, Joe, Davis, Yolei, Jun, and Ken stood in her room, all impatient. Sora was unaware of their presence or she would have come out a long time ago. Matt and Tai were missing because they had to get ready, but Sora was unaware that Tai was going to be there. Cody had declined the invitation to come because he would have felt left out, and indeed he would have. They were all much older than him.
"No, you don't! I picked out that dress and I have incredible fashion sense!" A couple of the guys snickered, but they're other halves quickly elbowed them in their stomachs.
"Whatever. Just don't laugh at me, okay?" Mimi put a finger to her lips, signaling the others to keep quiet.
"Okay!" she exclaimed. The bathroom door creaked open and out stepped Sora with her head bowed in embarrassment, feeling like she needed a neck brace to keep her head up. The red dress came up to her thighs and fit her form perfectly, not leaving much to the imagination. It was a spaghetti strap, much to the tomboy's dismay. There was complete silence. She finally forced herself to look up and gasped. She had not expected all of these people to be in her bedroom. All of the boys' jaws were on the floor in shock. The girls seemed impressed with Sora's transformation.
"You didn't tell me they were here, Mimi," Sora said in a low, threatening voice. Mimi looked at them and gasped in fake surprise.
"Well, bless my soul! How did they get in here?" Sora was not amused. They continued to stare at her, making her very nervous.
"Well???" she asked anxiously. Ken started clapping. Yolei glared at him. Apparently, he was her new pursuit of interest after the news about Izzy. She kept glaring, but Ken kept clapping. Pretty soon, T.K., Joe, Davis, and Izzy joined in. The girls, including Sora, exchanged amused looks. Sora curtsied her best. "Thank you," she said finally. They all got up from where they were and began on their way. Joe walked along with Sora. There was an unspoken understanding between the two, and it had made their friendship grow. Though they were nothing like Tai and Sora had been, they could still consider each other the best of friends. Sora was startled when Ken and Davis pulled up beside her.
"Y-y-you look r-r-r-really nice, S-sora," Davis stammered. He couldn't look up at her. His face was as red as a tomato. Sora wondered if he had a crush on her, but quickly dismissed the thought because she knew he still liked Kari. 'Maybe he's just stunned with my overwhelming beauty,' and she smiled at the thought. Ken rolled his eyes.
"What my cretinous comrade is trying to sputter out is that you look lovely this evening," he said with the air of a gentleman. Davis glared at him.
"What the heck does cretinous mean?" he asked angrily. Sora laughed.
"Well, cretin means 'deformed idiot', but I think you're a perfectly formed idiot, Davis," she said, grinning mischievously. Davis blushed again. Ken smiled at her.
"I don't think he caught what you said," he whispered to her. Sora nodded.
"Let's keep it that way," she whispered back. "Thank you both for the compliments," she said, louder this time. Davis shuffled his feet while Ken just grinned. They walked the rest of the way to the party in comfortable silence, but to Sora, it wasn't comfortable at all. 'Why did I let Mimi talk me into this? She's trying to talk me into meeting new guys, and all I want is Tai. All I want is to be in his arms. All I want is him. All I want is Taichi Kamiya to tell me he's sorry and that he loves me. I wish he was going to be there.' As though nothing was plaguing her mind, she walked along with a smile plastered to her face.
Tai swayed on his feet. He was supposed to go out on stage soon, but it was getting hard for him to see straight. 'I'm cutting it too close, Sora.' he thought. He swayed again, this time heading straight for the floor. Suddenly, a pair of strong hands grabbed him before he fell all the way. It was Matt.
"You okay, bud?" he asked worriedly. "I've never seen someone this nervous before." Tai stood up on his feet and looked at Matt forlornly.
"I'm not nervous. I'm dying, Matt." The blonde looked at him in shock.
"What do you mean you're dying?"
"Without Sora, I'm dying. I can't do anything without her. I can't... function. I need her," he said, his voice trailing off to something barely audible. Matt seemed scared. "I've got to get her back."
"Okay... Yeah, yeah, I'm on it, Tai," he said finally. Tai smiled.
"Thanks, Matt." A man passed him on his left in a hurry.
"Everyone's out there! We're supposed to be ready to go on!" Matt scolded loudly. Tai could hear the screaming girls outside. "All right. We're going to go out there and I'm going to say that we have special music. That's when-"
"That's when I go out there, dedicate the song, and sing. I know, I know. One thing, Matt." The blonde boy looked at Tai wearily.
"And what might that be?"
"Let me find her in the crowd before I start. I want to be sure she's here." Matt smiled.
"Sure thing. All right, everyone! Let's get out there!" he shouted as a battle cry. The band all let out cheers and ran out onto the stage.
"My feet hurt," Davis complained. T.K. punched him in the shoulder as a response.
"Shut up, you! We've got to keep the evening light for Sora, okay?" he whispered furiously. Davis simply nodded, rubbing his shoulder in pain. Everyone of them had been told about Tai singing that night and had been making an honest effort to keep Sora in high spirits- not an easy task.
"I wish I could sit down," Sora said suddenly. Joe laughed.
"Yeah, you could, but I'd doubt that you'd be able to see who's up there. You want to get in front of the crowd?" Joe asked. Sora shrugged.
"Whatever." Joe grabbed her hand and signaled the rest to follow. "Joe, what are you doing?" she asked angrily. Joe smiled at her.
"Taking you up front, of course. Everyone, hold on!" They all linked onto each other like they were doing the train and headed for the front of the crowd of screaming girls. There were a lot of guys there, too, but they weren't as anxious to see Yamato Ishida. Finally, Joe plowed over enough blonde bowling pins to get to the front. They all spread out horizontally against the stage.
"Great seats, Joe," Sora said, laughing at the rush she had gotten going through the crowd. Joe shrugged smugly.
"I try my best." He looked down and pressed a button on his watch, illuminating the screen. It was 11:45. The party had started a long time ago, but they all had decided to go later, right when Matt's band was supposed to start for the second time, as they had already given a prior concert, but Tai was going to sing at the second one. As part of the deal, the band would only play until 12:15 so they could spend New Year's Eve with whom they wanted. It would be a rather short concert, but everyone seemed anxious for any amount of attention Yamato Ishida could give them. Sora smirked at Joe's last comment and looked at the rest of the crew. Davis seemed to be fighting Yolei to get next to Kari. T.K. was making a valiant effort to protect the Lady Hikari, but was failing miserably from the horde of screaming girls that was making it impossible for them to move. Ken was making an effort to get out of Yolei's clutches, but the girl had the death grip of a pro wrestler, and he couldn't get away. Mimi was next to Sora, but was talking to Jun in an effort to find out the dirt on Matt. Suddenly, the lights in the huge room dimmed to almost nothing. Spotlights began to shine over the crowd and girls started screaming louder than ever.
"This is loud!" Sora yelled with her ears plugged. Joe barely heard her and nodded in agreement.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the rest of the Odaiba New Year's Eve Party 2001!" a voice boomed over a microphone system. There was a loud roar from the crowd. "And to let the party keep going the right way, let's continue it with the hottest band in Odaiba, Aphotic Abyss!"
"Cool name!" Sora yelled to Joe. He nodded.
"Sounds kinda mysterious!" he yelled back. She barely caught his words as spotlights shown on stage. Out ran Matt, followed by members of his band. Matt grabbed his guitar while the others grabbed their instruments.
"Hey, Odaiba!" Matt yelled at the crowd. They all roared in response. "You ready to start the year right?" Another roar from the crowd. 'There must be at least five hundred people here,' Sora thought absently. The drummer did a spastic solo and soon calmed down. "Well, to start the second half of the party, we're going to have a newcomer sing for you!" There was a large moan from the audience, as if they were of one mind. "Hey, hey, now. You won't regret it!" Kari smiled, knowing exactly what he was talking about. "Let's have a warm welcome for Taichi Kamiya!" Sora gasped. Tai? She couldn't be hearing right. As if to prove her wrong, Tai peeped out from behind the curtain and walked out on stage. There were a few screams of elation at the sight of the soccer team captain, but he seemed to pay no mind. He was scanning the crowd for someone, but couldn't find them. He looked at Matt helplessly. He mouthed I can't find her! Matt seemed nervous. Sora knew what was going on, but something inside of her didn't want Tai to find her. She felt horrible, but something inside of her still wanted revenge. Something inside of her wanted to make Tai squirm. She fought and fought, but she was mentally weak, and she could do nothing.
"TAI! TAI!" the other digidestined started screaming. He looked down and squinted. There he could see his sister, T.K., Davis, Joe, Mimi, Jun, Ken, Yolei, and best of all, Sora. She was dressed to kill, he noted quickly. He smiled for the first time since he had gone home from Kara Ishya's party and looked at Matt. He nodded as a cue. Matt smiled and signaled the rest of the band to get ready.
"I know this isn't an original song, but it's what I need to say to this one girl. I hope she can find it in her heart to forgive me, because I can't live without her." Kari felt her heart twist in her chest. 'Please forgive him, Sora. Please!' There were some oohs and awes from the audience, but silence soon ensued. Sora felt the tears well up in her eyes. He was going to sing to her. Matt and the rest of the band bowed their heads abruptly. Tai did, too. Sora watched in wonder as all the lights went out across the huge room, even the spotlights. Suddenly, lights lit up the stage, bathing the whole stage in blue light. Matt started the song off with a bang. There were screams of absolute delight as they realized what the song was. Sora vaguely remembered it, but couldn't put a name to it, yet. The rest of the digidestined knew it and were hoping that Tai wouldn't crack under the pressure. Finally, Tai's cue to come in came.
"If I fall along the way... Pick me up and dust me off." Tai paused. "And if I get too tired to make it be my breath so I can wa-alk." Tai's voice was starting to crack. He looked at Matt, who nodded as if reading his mind. "If I need some other love, then give me more than I can stand." Matt had given him back up, just in case Tai wouldn't be able to sing. "When my smile gets old and faded wait around I'll smile again... Shouldn't be so complicated. Just hold me and then... Just hold me again... Can you help me? I'm bent. I'm so scared that I'll never get put back together." That part Tai emphasized, trying to get his point across to the seventeen- year old that stood at his feet in pure awe. She had never heard him sing like this, and, along with the other 499 people there, was captivated by the soothing sound of his voice. "....Keep breaking me in and this is how we will end. With you and me... bent... And if I couldn't sleep, could you sleep?" He sang this part as he crouched down and reached out to Sora, who, much to the digidestined delight and to the dismay of all of the girls that had put Tai as a new heartthrob on their lists, reached back. "Could you paint me better off? Could you sympathize with my needs? I know you think I need a lot." Their fingers, no matter how far they stretched their arms, would not touch. Tai frowned and continued to sing into the wireless microphone in his hand. "Started out clean but I'm jaded..." Wasn't that the truth? He had started out just as clean as Sora, but now he was dirty. He was unfit. He was unclean. "...Just phoning it in, just breaking the skin. Can you help me? I'm bent. I'm so scared that I'll nev-er... get put back to-gether. Keep breaking me in, and this is how we will end. With you and me... bent...." Tai wanted to stop right then and tell her that he was scared. That he would never get put back together without her. They would both change by the time this was all over, but whether it would be for better or worse was still a mystery. Matt was still giving Tai backup, but more softly now. There didn't seem to be that much of a risk for Tai to lose his voice anymore. "Start bending me... It's never enough... 'Til I feel all your pieces..." Tai closed his eyes and his once open hand at this point. He wanted to feel her. He wanted to touch every part of her. Not only physically, but he wanted to feel her soul intertwined with his. He wanted to become one with her. He wanted to feel all of her. "Start bending me... Keep bending me until I'm completely broken in..." She would have to break him of all of his bad thoughts, about himself or otherwise. He would become her child. Sora would teach him everything all over again. This time, he would gladly listen. "Shouldn't be so complicated... Just touch me and then... Just touch me, again. Can you help me? I'm bent. I'm so scared..." Tai closed his eyes again at this point. Deep inside, he was very afraid. He didn't want to live without Sora for another second. "That I'll nev-er.... get put back togeth-er. Keep breaking me in, and this is how we will end. With you and me bent. Well, I don't understand. Here I go back again. Can you help me? I'm bent. I'm so scared that I'll never... get put back together. Keep breaking me in, and this is how we will end with you and me.... bent." Tai sang the last word softly while the rest of Aphotic Abyss carried out the acoustics. When they had finished, the crowd began to roar with applause and cheers. Tai smiled, blushed, and bowed. Matt went over to him and patted him on the back. Sora could hear various comments behind her.
"He is fine!"
"What was his name? Taichi Kamiya? Isn't he captain of the soccer team?"
"If it wasn't for that hair, I would have thought it was Rob Thomas up there!"
"He's good! Really good! I wonder if Yamato would let him join the band?"
"He is fine!"
"Look at that body! Makes you want to melt, doesn't it?"
"His voice is so... so... wonderful!"
"He is fine!" Sora, along with the rest of the digidestined, rolled their eyes at the numerous times this comment had been made by the same person.
"He must be talking about that little slut, Sora Takenouchi! I heard they got engaged, but she slept with someone at Kara Ishya's party!" This made Sora's blood boil.
"Yeah. Why would he want her? She's so ugly! I mean, sure, she's got a pretty face, but every time you see her out of school, she's wearing guy clothes!" Sora clasped her hands so tightly that they were white. Joe saw this and whirled around to face the rude girls behind him.
"Can't you just shut up!? That's not what happened at all! Don't go making accusations that you don't know are true! I'll have you know he cheated on her!!!" he screamed. Sora looked at him with hurt eyes. He realized what he had said and instantly felt ashamed. "I'm so sorry, Sora. I didn't mean-"
"No, it's all right. You were just trying to help me out," she said, cutting him off gently. Joe looked at her sympathetically. He looked into her eyes. They showed so much hurt, much like Ken's had. Hers were of a hurt that had lasted much longer than his, however. Her father. Her mother. Tai. Dear Lord, Tai must have broken her in half. Joe felt the sudden urge to kiss Sora, but he fought it, knowing he'd never forgive himself. He was having enough trouble getting over what had happened a few days before.
"Sora!" Tai called from the stage. She whirled around from Joe to see Tai reaching for her from the stage. She reached as far as she could, but there was no physical contact. A dull headache set in on the girl. The longer she reached for him, the worse the headache got. Finally, Sora stopped reaching and just looked at Tai. He almost melted at the sight of her. She smiled at him, and he smiled back. He assumed that she had forgiven him, and for that he was glad. He tried to get up, but was surprised when pain shot up his back like nails. If he had Sora back, why wasn't he well again? He saw Sora sway a bit. 'What's happening to us? We're still dying! We should be well now! This isn't right!' his mind screamed..
"I can't get to you!" Oh, how he just wanted to touch her. Just to know she was real. Just to know he had her back. "You guys can come back stage after the concert!" he yelled through cupped hands. "I'll be waiting for you!" Sora smiled wider and nodded. He nodded back and struggled to stand up. She saw this with vague deja vu. That was how she was this morning. She could barely move then, and that's how Tai was now. In a brief flash of understanding, she saw Tai for what he was hiding. He was sick. Bad sick. He hadn't eaten in days, and he was only feeding the sickness that he was suffering from. The "Love Sickness". Suddenly, Mimi squealed, snapping Sora out of her thoughts. Two thin, yet unnaturally strong arms, the same ones that had jerked Joe up from the floor, wrapped around her neck.
"I'm so happy for you, Sora! Now you won't be so sad anymore!" she said ecstatically. Sora smiled.
"No, I won't," she said back. All of the digidestined wriggled their way to her before the rest of the concert took place to express their congratulations. She had smiled and hugged all of them, hoping that she wouldn't be sad like that ever again.
"HAPPY NEW YEAR!" Everyone shouted. Matt's band began to play a rock and roll version of "Auld Lang Syne."
"I'm going back stage right now!" Sora exclaimed. Izzy and Mimi had firm holds on her arms, but Sora was summoning some inhuman strength as she tried to pull away.
"You've got to wait a minute! It's highly unlikely that we can become mobile with the extensive number of people in this facility!" Izzy called. Davis looked confused. T.K. laughed.
"He means there's too many people, Davis." The brown headed boy scowled.
"I knew that, J.A.! That means jack ass, if you didn't know!" he shouted triumphantly. T.K. seemed mildly amused. Kari scowled at Davis, but decided to get revenge by hooking her arm with T.K.'s. Davis writhed in jealousy.
"That was a new one," T.K. said finally, but couldn't help but grin. Davis just looked at him, but finally grinned back.
"Sorry, T.K. I guess I was a little... jealous," he said, not really wanting to apologize to him, but trying to make a good show for Kari. She smiled at him.
"That's very big of you, Davis," she said. She stepped forward and kissed Davis's cheek. When she pulled back, Kari saw the look on Davis's face was that of pure elation.
"I know, Davis. I know," she said with a mischievous grin. T.K. smiled at her and both turned their attention back to the ordeal with Sora, while Davis tried desperately to pick his jaw up off of the floor.
"JUST... LET.... ME... GO!!!" With that, Sora tore out of Mimi's grip and wrenched her arm out of Izzy's.
"Sora, wait! Damn. Well, let's follow her," Mimi said. Yolei latched onto Ken's arm and began to drag the poor boy after Mimi, who was in hot pursuit of the red headed tomboy. Jun looked dreamily at Matt, but soon snapped out of it and joined in the chase. Davis, Kari, and T.K. soon followed. Izzy was at Mimi's side, leaving Joe running behind them. They all tried to keep up, but soon, Mimi lost Sora in the crowd. "Well, I guess we'll have to wait until she comes back," she called back. Joe shook his head.
"She was going to meet him backstage!" he yelled. Mimi couldn't hear him, so they had to relay the message up to her. She nodded, and they were off again, this time heading backstage.
Tai limped out of his chair. His legs were hurting him quite badly, and he was almost in a state of panic. 'This isn't the way it's supposed to happen! I'm supposed to be better now! Sora's supposed to be better! We're supposed to be happy! Why are we so sick?' his mind asked, but Tai could provide no answer. 'Sora.... I've got to find... Sora...' The song the band was playing ended. He heard Matt wishing everyone a Happy New Year. As Matt came back stage, some other music started playing over the sound system so that the party could last longer.
"You were great!" Matt exclaimed. Tai didn't smile.
"I've got to find Sora!" he exclaimed. Matt looked at him worriedly.
"What's wrong, man? You've got her back!" he said. Tai shook his head.
"I'm still sick, Matt. I've got to find her. I've got to find her. I've got to find Sora. Sora! I've got to find her! Sora! SORA! SORA!" he began to shout. 'He's going crazy!' Matt thought, but decided to help his friend. "Let me go! I've got to find Sora on my own! SORA! SORA!!!" he screamed. Matt tried to help Tai again, but the brown headed boy raised a fist in the air. "Let.... me... go..." he said, his tone deathly. Matt let go immediately.
"I'll look for her, too, okay?" Tai didn't acknowledge this.
"Sora! SORA!! SORA!!!" he screamed again. Matt hesitantly backed away from him and began to look for Sora, too. Tai ran as best he could through the building. "SORA!!! PLEASE! SORA!!!" His vision began to blur. He rubbed his eyes, but nothing happened. He closed them and opened them again, but everything was still so blurry. It began to clear a little bit and he saw a figure running toward him. "SORA! Right here! It's me, Tai!" He wasn't exactly sure that the figure was Sora, but it kind of looked like her. His vision was still blurry, however, which increased the chances that he had made a mistake in identifying the figure. As the figure came closer, he began to realize that it wasn't Sora at all. Sora didn't have black hair. Sora didn't have that dark of skin. Sora was taller than that. That wasn't Sora.
"TAI!!!" the girl screamed. She jumped on him, knocking him to the floor. He yelped in pain as he hit the floor on his seemingly broken shoulders. "I knew you'd come around," she whispered seductively. Tai felt panic rising in his throat.
"Get off of me, Kara! You've ruined my life enough already!!!" he shouted, trying to push her off of him, but his muscles were weak from exhaustion and hunger.
'You should have eaten, Tai. It would be really bad if Sora came along, wouldn't it? Why, isn't that her right now?'
Tai didn't get a chance to make himself double check the other figure that was coming toward him. He was only met by Kara's lips against his. When the once had no taste at all, they now tasted of pure hatred and lust.
"T-t-t-tai? Tai, is that you?" a small, trembling voice called. Tai worked his head from side to side, trying to get out from under the grip that Kara's lips had on him. "Tai?" the voice called again, this time even more shakily.
"GET OFF OF ME NOW!!!" Tai roared. Kara got up and jerked Tai up along with her. His vision began to clear, and sure enough, a young girl with red hair the color of fire and skin as white as snow stood before him, her face showing devastation.
"T-t-t-t-tai?" she asked again. "Is that you?" Tai limped toward her, but was caught by Kara's hand.
"Nuh-uh, Tai. You're mine now. That's why you sang to me, isn't it?" Tai tore his hand from Kara's grip and looked back at Sora. She was beginning to cry.
"Tai?" she asked again. She couldn't believe it. Tai felt himself shudder in rage at Kara. It was all he could do to keep from killing the black haired girl.
"It's not what it seems, Sora. I was too weak to fight her-"
"Yeah, Tai. That's right. Give me an excuse. To think, I have been thinking about you none-stop ever since Christmas Eve, telling myself I'd be with you again. Telling myself not to lose hope. Telling myself that I love you, and you loved me back. You just proved me wrong, Tai. I thought that I was right, but now I know I was dead... wrong," she said, the tears pouring down her face. Suddenly, Matt started running toward them. As soon as he saw Kara, he felt very angry, but he wasn't sure if it was at her or Tai.
"We're going to die without each other, Sora! You have to believe me!"
"No, I don't." With that, Sora began to sob hysterically. She turned on her heels and began to run, not sure to where she was going. Tai started to limp after her, but Kara latched onto his hand again.
"Why go after her when you can have me?" she asked in that same seductive whisper, which now seemed more like a rasp to Tai. Suddenly, the rage inside of him built into an inferno and he couldn't hold it back anymore. He raised back a hand and slapped Kara so hard that she fell into the wall. Tai felt sorry for doing it, but somebody had to teach the girl a lesson. He saw Matt. His face was grim.
"Well, glad you beat me to it, Tai. I might have strangled her," he said, glaring at Kara, who was now holding her cheek in pain. "Go after her, Tai! She can't live without you either!" he exclaimed. Tai gave a short nod and began to run with all that was left in him. Suddenly, the rest of the group rounded a corner. At first glance, all they saw was Kara holding her cheek and crying while Matt stood beside her, showing no emotion for the girl whatsoever.
"What the heck happened?" Kari asked as they all ran up to the band leader.
"This slut tackled Tai and made Sora believe that he didn't sing it to her, but to Kara," Matt explained. Jun ran up to his side and stared at Kara.
"You've done it this time, Kara. You really have. Do you realize that she could commit suicide now?" she asked, her tone deadly.
"If that's the case, we'd better follow them. Which way did they go, Matt?" T.K. asked. Matt pointed in one direction.
"This way. I'll lead. I think we might catch up to Tai. He said that he's dying and told Sora that they'll die without each other." Kari's eyes widened in fear.
"He's not lying, Matt! He hasn't eaten in days! He won't! He says it's what he deserves! My brother is going to die, and Sora is, too!" she wailed. T.K. wrapped his arms around her tightly. Joe noticed that Davis didn't seem jealous this time, but actually worried. He was actually worried about someone rather than himself.
"Then let's get going!" Mimi shouted, beginning to run in her high heels. Everyone followed her except for Matt, who ran up to the front of the digi-crowd to guide them. Kara was left leaning against the wall, wishing she'd never met the group of friends or Taichi Kamiya.
"SORA! PLEASE! LET ME EXPLAIN!" Tai shouted painfully after her. They had ran through numerous doors and had ended up outside. His limp was getting worse. At one point and time, he thought his legs were broken, but he kept running anyway. Sora was slowing down gradually, fatigue setting in on her muscles. Finally, she fell in a fit of tears. Tai limped up to her and kneeled. "You've got to let me talk to you!" he yelled. Sora cringed at his touch and crawled to her feet.
"I don't have to listen to a damn thing you have to say to me!" she retorted tearfully. Tai tried to stand up, but his legs gave way and he fell onto the pavement. Sora gasped. "Tai!" He brushed away her helpful hand, knowing full well that his weight added to hers combined with the weakness in their bodies, they would both end up on the ground. There was the trampling of footsteps behind them. Tai realized they hadn't gotten far with their current impairments. He finally managed to get up right when the rest of them arrived.
"Listen to me, Sora. I don't care if the rest of them are here, but I have to talk to you now." Sora swallowed and finally nodded. The rest of the digidestined said nothing. "Sora, for the last five days, I have been dying. Slowly but surely. I can't function. I can't think. I can't be. Do you know why?" Sora didn't give any response, but knew what the answer was. "I not only want you, but I need you. You are a part of me. We are of one mind, soul, and body because of what we've been through." The other digidestined glanced at each other, all guessing the same thing when Tai said that they were "one." "If you don't believe me, I can prove it." Sora looked at him with hurt eyes, neither accepting nor declining the offer. He managed to work his arms right to where he had a hold of his shirt and pulled upward. Sora gasped. Though Tai had only stopped eating five days ago, his ribs were showing like he hadn't eaten in weeks. The rest of them gasped, too, but none of them were as hurt as Sora by Tai's irrational actions.
"You did that to yourself, Tai," she said finally. Tai reached a hand out to her.
"Only because I deserved it," he answered softly. She tore her eyes away from his deprived body and shut them abruptly. "Look at me, Sora," he commanded sternly. She found herself turning her eyes back to him. He was shivering a bit from the night cold. He let his shirt drop to the ground and stared Sora in the eye. "Don't turn away from me. If you can't accept me in my true form, hideous as it is, then we weren't meant to be." She looked at him, taking in his once strong body which now looked like it could have snapped like a twig. His arms that she had wanted to be in so badly were now just bones. "This isn't all of it, Sora."
"I don't want to see anymore!" she wailed. Tai's expression grew stern.
"You have to." With that, there was the swift sound of an umbrella, and behind Tai were his wings. Broken. Bleeding. But this time it was worse. They were dripping blood onto the pavement. Sora gasped in horror, as did a few of the others. "I know you cried for me, Sora. I know you wept until the tears wouldn't come anymore. I know you were hurting inside. I know your heart was aching. I know your heart was bleeding. This is what happened, Sora. I know you still care," he said softly, but was grimacing in pain. He felt like he could scream forever. His back was in a perpetual state of agony, almost making him want to cry. Hell, he wanted to cry. He wanted to fall into Sora's arms and cry like there was no tomorrow, which may have been true for him.
"Oh, Tai..." she whispered, closing her eyes to the sight before her. Tai felt anger inside of him.
"I'm a monster, Sora! I broke all of my promises to you, and I become a monster! I can understand you if you don't want to be with me. I'm a freaking MONSTER!" he roared. Sora walked up to him and touched his face gently.
"I'm the monster, Tai." He looked at her curiously.
"How are you a monster?"
"I told you that I'd never leave you. In a way that's true, because my heart was always with you, but physically, I wasn't there. And I...I..." Tai caressed her face softly.
"Tell me." She sighed and began to cry again.
"I tried to sleep with Joe," she said finally. All of the digidestineds excluding Tai and Sora looked at Joe simultaneously. He blushed and tugged at his collar as if to release steam. They all looked back at Tai wondering what his reaction would be.
"You're forgiven, but now you need to forgive me," he said calmly. 'She said she tried, not did, but tried.'
"Answer me this. Why couldn't you sleep with me, Tai?" He let his hand drop from her face. All of the digidestined had their mouths open in surprise at the question and waited for Tai's answer.
It didn't come.
"Dammit, Tai! You were going to sleep with Kara, but the night before, you wouldn't sleep with me! You told me you couldn't because of religious reasons and you didn't want me to get pregnant! What did you think could happen with Kara? It was going to be our first time, Tai! I was going to give you the only damn thing I have left, but I couldn't," she spouted angrily. The digidestineds' jaws all hung open. Tai and Sora hadn't done anything before? It would have been both of their first times? They were both virgins? They had all expected Tai to have done something before then, but it became obvious after Sora's little speech that they were wrong.
"You want to know the reason? It's because I couldn't take all that you had left, Sora! It's because you were innocent, and I would have taken that away from you! It's because I love you with all my heart and I didn't want to make your first time the worst experience ever! Yes, religion and the pregnancy thing were part of it, but I couldn't take your innocence!" he screamed at her. "That's one of the things that I admired about you, Sora. You're one of the most beautiful girls in school, but you haven't done anything like the other girls. Why Kara? Because I didn't see innocence in her eyes. I was going to try to make your first time good for you by actually knowing what I was doing when we did do it! The stupidest reason in the world, I know, but dammit, Sora, I still love you!!!!" Everyone stood speechless, waiting for Sora's response to Tai. His hardened expression turned soft. "I still love you!" he said softly, his eyes becoming glassy in the moonlight. Sora began to cry harder.
"Oh, Tai!" she cried as she wrapped her hands around him tightly. Everyone smiled. They were finally back together, it seemed. Tai started to cry with joy. He felt his wings begin to heal. The blood stopped dripping. The same blood that Sora and Tai had bled through their tears. Through their hearts. Through their minds. They felt themselves become rejuvenated. It was an incredible feeling to them both. They held each other so tightly that they could hardly breath, but they were just so glad to be in each other's arms. Sora felt like she could melt. She felt like she could just stay in his arms forever, like she'd always wanted, too.
"I'm going to be your child, Sora. You're going to teach me about love, kindness, and trust. I will be your willing student. You will teach me what I need to know so I can love you the right way, and maybe one day, you can trust me again," he whispered softly. Sora nodded slowly.
"Only if you can teach me a way to love you more," she whispered back. They both smiled. Tai took in a deep breath of her hair, as if making sure she was really there. She was! She was really in his arms! He was really going to live! He looked up and saw that they were under a willow tree. He felt his heart stop. No. This was too familiar. A willow tree? Then, if this was real life, and there was a willow tree.... He was still going to die!!!
"NO! You can't take me away from her! I love her! Oh, dear God! I can't die! I LOVE HER!" he cried. Sora pulled away from him, terrified. The others looked on in fear, too.
"What do you mean, Tai? You're not going to leave me! We're just beginning the rest of our lives, Tai!" she cried, becoming more and more afraid.
"The dream! You were under the willow tree and I finally got you back and I died in your arms! I died! I'm still going to die!" he cried. Sora shook her head.
"YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME!" she wailed. Matt and Joe rushed over to Sora side as she fell to the ground in a heap. Kari ran to Tai with T.K. close on her heels.
"No! I'm going to fight it! I'm not going to die! Not when we're together again!" Tai cried. Suddenly, something strong overcame him. Suddenly, he saw a man in a dark cloak point at him.
"Time to go home, Tai," he said calmly. Tai shook his head. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion except him and the man in the cloak. Then, all of his friends disappeared, but the sound of their frantic voices remained.
"No! I just got her back! I love her too much to let her go!" he shouted. The man in the cloak disappeared and reappeared at Tai's side. Suddenly, Tai could feel the cold of the night anymore. The man in the cloak began to reach a gnarled hand toward Tai. "DON'T TOUCH ME! NO!!!" he screamed. The man in the cloak touched him gently.
"You knew this was going to happen," he said softly. Tai jerked his hand out from under the man's grip, but saw a white blaze out of the corner of his eye. He looked and saw it was like a doorway. "Come, child. Heaven awaits you. You have confessed your sins and are ready to die." Tai screamed, but it had no sound, like he was in space with no air. "Time to go home, Tai."
Tai's life began to flash before his eyes.
Kari. All of the times that she had been a great sister to him. Of all of the times that he had failed to tell her that he loved her. Of all the times that he had tortured her until she cried. Of all the times he had failed her.
i'm so sorry kari
Matt. Like a brother all the way. All of the times he had picked fights with him, but who would have thought they would have turned out to be best friends. My best friend, Matt. The closest friend he ever had.
i'll miss you a lot matt
Izzy. The smartest kid. The best computer whiz in Japan, for all he knew. How many times had he gotten them out of jams with his techno jargon in the digital world? He'd lost count. His friendship meant the world to him.
i'll never forget you izzy
Joe. The voice of reason. Reliability fit him well. He was always there when needed. Whenever called on, he rose to met the challenge, even though his pessimism made him seem impossible. What a guy.
i'm proud to know you joe
T.K. The kid that had the face of a child and the wisdom of a man. His hope had saved them so many times. Along with his friendship. His role in the new digidestined team couldn't have been done without. He'll always be a good kid.
i'll still be with you t.k.
Mimi. Airheadedness aside, she's the best person to have for a friend. Kind, caring, considerate. There when you need her. Though some things about her were too ditzy, she was still a great person on the inside.
i'll remember you in heaven mimi
Sora. His love. His life. His light. His hope. His heart. His mind. His soul. All is invested in her. His mistakes were glaring ones in their relationship, but she had always loved him. And he would always love her, no matter where he is.
i'll always love you sora you'll always be my girl i'll always be with you
He couldn't leave her! Yes, it was hard to leave his sister, but he couldn't leave Sora! He loved her! Heaven wouldn't be enough for him! He had to have Sora! Forever! Eternally! Infinitely!
"I LOVE HER!!!!! NO!!!"
Tai scream broke the sound proof glass that had surrounded him, not letting any breath pass from his lips, letting no sound travel. The glass broke with a thunderous shatter. The man in the cloak nodded and disappeared. The doorway to Heaven simply shut, cutting off the light that it had shown. The slow motion voices of his friends became normal speed, and slowly, but surely, their bodies began to fade into his sight. He was still standing in the same place. He felt his face was twisted in horror, but he quickly erased it.
"I'm going to live!!!! I'm not going to die!" he shouted. Sora was still crying, but her eyes now showed hope. She ran up to him and hugged him tightly.
"Don't ever scare me like that again, Taichi!" she screamed into his ear, trying to scold him. He pulled her away from the embrace and put his hands on her face.
"I'll never leave you, Sora," he whispered. With that, he pulled her face to his, placing a deep, loving, and passionate kiss on her lips, sealing eternity.
Sealing Forever with a kiss.
A kiss of true love.
A kiss of fire.
A kiss of life.
A/N: So, how was the ending? I didn't expect to end it on this part, but I did anyway. Well, you guys can ask away on your questions. I have one more fic in this series, and then it's finished. So this really isn't the end as you've already guessed. Man, this ending sucked! I wanted it to be a whole lot better, but I guess it's too late for that.
I'm sorry if I seem bitter. Saturday, January 6th at 10:49 a.m., I will be all of fourteen years (need to update my profile), but no one seemed to remember except my parents. Could you guys review for a birthday present? Even if it's one word, an insult to my intelligence, a flame, a question, or something good? I'd really appreciate it. It'd make me feel a lot better.
Did I make you guys cry? I almost made myself cry. I would have shorted out my keyboard, however, and that just wouldn't have done me well, would it?
I'd like to thank Kari and KIMaru for their encouragement. There are a whole lot of others out there and I'll try to name you off in my fic where I answer questions.
Thank you all for being a great audience!
Artisan of the Written Word